For some time now, we’ve been hearing a lot about superfoods: fruits, vegetables, algae and plants whose benefits would be superior to those of everyday foods. Even if no official definition has been established, it seems that superfoods are so healthy that they could help fight against certain diseases. Here are five whose nutritional values and protective qualities have been recognized as exceptional.
The bilberry (blueberry) has been the subject of numerous scientific studies. Indeed, it would be a source of antioxidants which would make it possible to fight against certain pathologies of the daily newspaper, like the inflammations of the mucous membranes of the mouth and the throat, the diarrhoea and the diabetes1.
According to an American study, it has between 25 and 30 different varieties of antioxidants: the highest rate for a fruit. A daily consumption of this fruit could therefore help reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. It has recently been proven that blueberries also have preventive and restorative effects on memory loss, and could prevent Alzheimer’s disease2. Indeed, they would improve communication between brain cells by eliminating damaged proteins in the brain.
At the level of the eyes, it appears that the bilberry plays, there still, a role in the regeneration of the retinal violet, i.e. the violet pigment in the retina which makes it possible to see in the twilight. Although some of the benefits attributed to the fruit have yet to be proven, most have been studied and confirmed. The consumption of blueberries is recommended by a large number of researchers, who prefer them in their wild state3 they keep all their properties intact.
How to eat them ? In a drink, with cereals, fruit salad or yoghurt, blueberries can easily be added to all your desserts or drinks.
Beet is a source of folic acid, fiber, and organic compounds. It is one of the best superfoods because of its antioxidant properties, but also because it is rich in calcium, iron, minerals and vitamins.
It is a vegetable full of nitrates which, among other things, increase sports performance. Moreover, according to a study1 Beet juice has been shown to help the elderly fight Alzheimer’s disease by dilating blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. It has been proven that beet increases the number of white blood cells (defenders of the body) and red blood cells (oxygen collectors), which facilitates blood circulation. Beet is also known as a tonic and invigorating vegetable: its carbohydrate content (8 to 10%) is a real source of energy.
How to eat it ? Raw in a salad, in juice, in soup or cooked, beet is one of the sweetest vegetables: it is recommended to watch its cooking so that it does not lose its vitamin content.
A fish rich in omega-3, salmon is one of the fattest superfoods, although its lipid content varies according to the species.
It is considered a food that reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality from coronary heart disease1-2. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids promote good immune function, act on blood pressure3blood triglycerides4and the formation of blood clots5. Its high vitamin D content helps protect bones and the heart and prevents the hardening of the arteries.
Some studies6 claim that salmon consumption would contribute to the prevention of mood disorders such as depression. The selenium present in this fish contributes to the destruction of free radicals and to the conversion of thyroid hormones into their active form, which helps to fight against fatigue. It is recommended to eat salmon at least twice a week, removing the skin which contains dioxins.
How to eat it? Salmon can be eaten raw (tartar, sashimi), smoked or cooked. It is important to choose it fresh, because when eaten raw, the number of bacteria is higher, and people with a weakened immune system are more likely to be infected.
The gourmet pleasure of superfoods is dark chocolate. Rich in antioxidants thanks to its flavonoids (10%)1-2-3it would promote the reduction of free radicals in the body.
The stearic acid present in saturated fatty acids and the iron present in chocolate would be beneficial on the cardiovascular level, just like the magnesium it contains. A recent study4 has demonstrated its benefits on the risks of atherosclerosis: dark chocolate would restore the flexibility of the arteries and avoid the deposition of white blood cell plaques on the arterial walls. It would also be part of the foods that provide a feeling of good mood, and help fight against stress. Although studies on the benefits of dark chocolate are still controversial, most of them recommend consuming between 7 and 20 grams a day to benefit from its effects.
How to eat it? Chocolate is often used in cooking in cakes, mousses or fondues. But it is also possible to consume it in the form of cocoa powder to make a hot chocolate, or simply to take a square from its bar.
Green and black teas
Superfoods are also available in beverages. Green and black teas contain flavonoids and catechins, powerful antioxidants.
As for green tea, some studies have shown that it helps reduce cholesterol levels and digestive disorders thanks to its high concentration of EGCG (catechin)1. Other recent research suggests that drinking green tea may prevent skin and lung cancer2-3. The interest of scientists in green tea is not insignificant: its benefits have been studied for years and are being proven more and more each day.
As for black tea, it is a variety of tea with a higher caffeine content. It is said to improve mental capacity and mood in general, while providing better hydration to the body. Like green tea, it also has antioxidant properties, but also a high calcium content that protects bone mass. Taking 3 cups of black tea a day would help reduce the risk of heart attack by 11%. An American study4 showed that rinsing the mouth with black tea would limit the appearance of cavities. Green tea is also considered to be one of the healthiest beverages in the world, after water.
How to consume them? In infusion, in tablet form or in cooking (green tea cake).
In traditional Chinese medicine, goji berries help protect the liver, kidneys and organs of vision.
In addition, they stimulate the immune system, can treat male infertility and respiratory disorders, slow down neurological aging and fight fatigue and weakness.
They are often consumed in cures at the end of winter at a rate of a small handful per day, preferably in the morning.
Low in calories, spirulina contains a large quantity of proteins, antioxidants and gamma-linolenic acid (from the omega-6 family). They have antioxidant, anti-diabetic and immunostimulant properties.
For some people, spirulina consumption can cause various symptoms such as gastrointestinal disorders or headaches, especially when the starting dosages are too high. To avoid these symptoms related to the detoxifying properties of spirulina, start with 1 g per day for 1 week and gradually increase the dose over the following weeks. On the other hand, people suffering from phenylketonuria should avoid spirulina, because like all foods containing proteins, it contains phenylalanine.
Chia seeds are excellent for the heart.
Numerous studies have shown that they can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and thus prevent blood vessel blockage. They are also rich in fiber, making digestion easier.
Finally, because they are very rich in calcium, chia seeds strengthen teeth and bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Do you want to reduce your consumption of dairy products? Incorporate 100 grams of chia seeds into your daily diet and you will meet 20% of your daily calcium needs.
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